Not every headache is a migraine. Migraines are a type of headaches which usually affect one side of the head, forehead or around the eyes. The headache usually gets worse with movement, bright light, loud noises. It is often described as the worst type of headache because of the intense pounding and pulsating nature.
To read more about the different types of headaches, click here
The exact cause of a migraine is unknown but some of the risk factors and triggers include:
- If you have a family history of migraines
- Hormonal changes like menstruation (menstrual migraines)
- Stress, insufficient sleep, depression
- Strong smells and lights
- Alcohol, caffeine
- Medicines like contraceptive pills
- Gender (Women are more likely to have migraines than men)
The symptoms would depend on the type of migraines you have. The two main types include:
a) Common migraines (without auras) account for about 75% of migraine headaches.
b) Classic migraines (with auras- an aura is like a warning sign that you are about to have a migraine). An aura lasts about 15-30mins and could include some of the following symptoms:
For more detailed information about migraines, click here
Your doctor will ask you many questions to determine if you have a migraine. You can have a migraine diary where you note all the times you felt you had a migraine, the triggers and the level of pain you felt. The doctors specialized in treating headaches are neurologists.
There is no single cure for migraines. Management include migraine remedies (non-medical) and some medications.
Non-medical solutions such as:
- Lie down in a quiet, dark room
- Putting a cold cloth behind your neck or on your forehead
- Massage your scalp with pressure
- Non-prescription pain medications like ibuprofen, paracetamol, naproxen should do.
- In some cases you might be given an anti-nausea/vomiting medication
- There are also some medications for the prevention of migraines.
Make sure to talk with your doctor/pharmacists before taking any medications, read drug labels and take recommended dose. You should note that overuse of headache medications can lead to medication overuse headaches (rebound headache)
Prevention of migraines
To prevent future attacks, a few lifestyle changes could help like
- Drinking a lot of water daily
- Regular moderate physical exercises
- Getting enough sleep and
- Reducing stress
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About the author
Dr. Ekwoge Hilda is a trained pharmacist from Cameroon and Co-founder of HILPharma. When she is not busy creating content, she slings pills to pay the bills.